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Freezing a Starter

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  • Freezing a Starter

    Now that I have an active starter that is producing good bread, I'm scared to death about some apocalypic event (like an accidental trip to the dishwasher) destroying it. I've fed these guys roughly twice a day almost every day for two months and I've grown to like them.

    So has anyone tried freezing some and reviving later? I'm trying it starting tonight, plan to revive in a few days, and will report the progress. But I'd be curious to know if anyone around here has had some luck.


  • #2
    Re: Freezing a Starter

    Freezing will work. It will kill a significant fraction of the yeast over time, thus typically requiring a nominal week or so of rebuilding to get it healthy again. So long as kept frozen they should stay viable for an extended period. Still, it is good to freeze a new batch periodically to be as fresh and lively as possible - say yearly.

    A quite acceptable alternative is simply smear some on a piece of parchment and let it dry. The yeast will go into a natural dormancy and will be more durable as I understand it to the frozen (i.e. remain viable longer). I don't have experience to back that up. You still need to rebuild the robustness of the starter.

    In both cases the saved starter should have a significant population of all your "normal" beasties so you don't have to go through as much gyration of building the bacteria population and shifting the yeast population to get to a sourdough starter. Having some of both is not a bad idea. You can also freeae the dried yeast which is actually better than freezing wet starter as I understand it.

    I have not had to recover as starter from either so I am only speaking from second hand knowledge!


    • #3
      Re: Freezing a Starter

      Last year I took on a project out of state that took me away from home for about 2 months. I took my starters with me but I also feared loosing them.

      I took active starter and smeared it thin on parchment paper and let it dry completely then I folded up the parchment with the dry starter put it in a freezer bag and put them in the freezer. (thanks for reminding me that they are there) They have been in there for about 8 months.

      I will pull some out today and see how they revive.

      I also keep a back up set of starter. Every time I feed my starter I make a duplicate set that way if anything goes wrong you have active starter on the ready. I just went through that last bake and needed to revert back to my backup. I think one of the biggest killer of starters is people forget to pull some out after they build up the starter. Mix it all up and bake.

      Any way good idea having a backup starter. Welcome to our world, sounds like your starter has become a member of the family. Soon you will give it a name. If you take a long trip you will worry about the safety of your starter. If you take a long vacation you may consider having a sitter come in and feed it when necessary...But if your like me you can't trust them to do it correctly so you figure how to take it with you. Remember if you take it on an airplane TSA does not understand bread starter.


      • #4
        Re: Freezing a Starter

        This might help
        This method, where the starter is kept very dry, is quite similar to the 'cowboy starter' used by cowboys in the USA last century. You can store this type of sourdough stater quite successfully inside a bag of flour.
        Dry Dough Sourdough Starter


        • #5
          Re: Freezing a Starter

          As far as giving the starter a name...I refer to them as "the goldfish".

          As in ..."it's time to feed the goldfish". It's kind of the equivilant level of work as maintaining a starter as it is having a goldfish IMO.